About Jim Hines

http://www.jimchines.com

Posts by Jim Hines:

Upcoming Events

Terminal Alliance - Papberback Cover ArtIt’s going to be a busy few weeks. In addition to the October 30 paperback release of Terminal Alliance, I’ve got three different events coming up: two in-state, and one out-of-country.

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October 20, 2 – 6 p.m.
Unreality Fest. Battle Creek Barnes & Noble. Battle Creek, Michigan.

“This is a festival celebrating science fantasy, science fiction, horror, and paranormal authors and their work. This year’s authors include Jim C. Hines, Danica Davidsion, J. Gabriel Gates, Lindsay Mead, Patricia Arnold, Curtis S. Arnold, Steve Copling, Thomas H. Picard, Corbin Dailey, and Sandy Carlson.”

October 24, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
“Prep-Tober” Writing Workshop/Q&A at East Lansing Public Library. East Lansing, Michigan.

“Attention all current and would-be writers! Thinking about tackling National Novel Writing Month this year? Not sure how to get started? Jim C. Hines, SFF author of the Magic Ex Libris, Princess, Jig the Goblin, and new Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series is hosting a Prep-Tober writing workshop Wednesday, October 24, 6:30-8pm. He’ll talk about the writing process, how he got started, and answer any questions you may have. A book signing will take place at the end.”

October 31 – November 5
Les Utopiales. Nantes, France.

“Fortes du patrimoine laissé par Jules Verne et du passé surréaliste de Nantes, les Utopiales se sont installées dans le paysage culturel nantais au tout début du nouveau siècle, en l’an 2000.”

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Unfortunately, this means I’ll be spending much of Terminal Alliance day on planes, but you know what? For a trip to France, I’m okay with that.

This also means I’m trying to get everything ready and/or finished now, because the next few weeks are going to be hectic. But once I get back home, that’s it for me until ConFusion in January. Nothing to do but sit around and relax while I finish page proofs for Terminal Uprising, work on the third Janitors book, write those other pieces, like an anthology introduction and a solicited non-fiction piece… Not to mention getting ready for the holidays. And my wife’s birthday. Plus the dog needs knee surgery. And we have to finish clearing stuff out of the garage.

…and if I keep listing things, I’m going to end up running away from the computer and hiding in my Protective Blanket of Fear.

Happy Wednesday, all!

Local Teacher Arrested for Criminal Sexual Conduct

Content warning for discussion of a teacher arrested for sexual touching of students.

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Earlier this month, as I was sitting in the airport getting ready to go to ICON, an email popped up from our school district superintendent. He was writing to let parents know that a fifth grade teacher had been arrested on five counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of assault with intent to commit second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

This was my son’s teacher a few years ago.

My wife spoke with my son while I was gone. He says Mr. Daley never did anything like that to him, which was a relief. He also talked about how disappointed he was in his teacher.

You and me both, kiddo.

My son is in eighth grade this year. If you’d asked me who his best teacher was in the decade he’s been going to school? I would have said Mr. Daley. He was patient, supportive, encouraging, and seemed to genuinely care about his students.

And now, every good thing he did is tainted by the question, Did he really care about his students? Or was it all some sort of grooming behavior, laying the groundwork to see what he could get away with, and with whom?

I trust and believe my son when he says nothing happened. I know fifth grade was a good year for him in many ways, and a relief after a rough time in fourth grade. Mr. Daley was a big part of that. But I also know at least four boys have come forward with these accusations — accusations the news reports claim are corroborated — accusations that were enough to justify an arrest and formal charges.

I’ve worked with rape and abuse survivors. I’ve observed groups with convicted abusers. My wife is a licensed therapist, and has way more experience than I do working with both survivors and abusers. Mr. Daley was one of our favorite teachers for either of our children. Neither one of us had the slightest inkling.

And I start thinking about other, more publicized accusations of harassment and assault, and the denials that follow. People coming out to proclaim the accuser must be lying because the accused is a “very fine man,” and they’ve never seen anything to suggest he (or she) would do such a thing.

Well, yeah. Predators don’t have neon forehead tattoos labeling them rapists and harassers and abusers. The soundtrack doesn’t shift to a minor key when they enter a room.

I understand feeling shocked. I understand not wanting to believe. I was so much happier thinking of this guy as just a great teacher instead of an alleged sexual predator.

I understand wanting to bury your head in denial. But every time someone proclaims, “The victim must be lying, because the accused is such a good man and he’d never do that,” not only are you hurting the victim — not only are you calling them a liar and adding to the burden and pain of speaking up — you’re also providing cover for predators. You’re saying all they have to do is act like a good person around you, and you’ll actively support them and help them to discredit their victims.

Sometimes it’s people you never would have expected. Sometimes it’s people on your “side.” Sometimes it’s people you really liked.

The next hearing in this case is scheduled for late November. Daley will have his time in court, and is legally innocent until proven guilty. It’s possible he is innocent. But given that false accusations are statistically unlikely, given that there are multiple, corroborated accusations, given that enough evidence exists for multiple charges to have been filed, I find that very unlikely.

No matter how much I might want to believe otherwise.

Mental Health Awareness Day (Another Post About Depression)

October 10 is Mental Health Awareness Day. If you’re a regular reader, you probably already know I’ve been dealing with depression for a while now. Got the official diagnosis back in April of 2012. Started on antidepressants the next month. Began seeing a counselor shortly after that.

The depression had been there a lot longer. I remember feeling suicidal as a kid, and getting close enough to scare myself at least twice. Looking back, I can see stretches where the brain weasels got the best of me in college too, and they had a good old time messing with my head the year I spent living in Nevada.

Lucy: Psychiatric HelpThe pills helped to stabilize my mood and get me back to a healthier baseline. The counselor helped me make some changes with my life. Neither of these things actually fixed or cured the depression. Like my diabetes, it’s still there — I’m just doing a better job of managing it.

Unlike the diabetes, I can’t take a drop of blood and measure how Depressed I am today. Wouldn’t that be nice? “My Depression Level is 193. Better watch a half hour of kitten videos.”

A big difference in my pre- and post-diagnosis life is that I now know the brain weasels are there. I’m better at recognizing when I’m just having a lousy day vs. when the Depression is getting the upper hand. Being able to identify the problem, knowing it’s real, helps a lot.

But it doesn’t make the problem go away. I know it’s there, and I know there are cracks in my mental health the brain weasels can sneak through. To choose a totally hypothetical example, say a book I’m working on is going a lot more slowly than I want…

One of the best things I’ve learned over the past six years is that I’m not alone. Since I started talking about the depression, I’ve spoken with a lot of people who are fighting the same disease. Others are battling different mental illnesses. And none of us are alone in that fight, even though the brain weasels will totally lie and try to make you think you are.

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Lesson One: Depression lies. It says you’re alone, you’re unworthy of love, your failures are deserved and your successes are flukes, your happiness is fleeting but sadness is eternal, your problems are inescapable, and things will never get better. It’s all lies.

Lesson Two: Mental illness is real. You know, I had zero problem going to the hospital for my diabetes back when I was diagnosed. My blood sugar was over 600 at one point. It didn’t matter how strong or determined or optimistic I was if my pancreas was taking early retirement.

Mental illness is just as real and valid as any other. Willpower won’t make my pancreas start working. Willpower also won’t rebalance the chemical makeup of my brain. There are things I can do to help — exercise can be a useful tool for both diseases — but it won’t cure the problems.

People get sick. That doesn’t make you a failure, and it’s not your fault.

Lesson Three: Getting help is … helpful. Going to the doctor and the counselor was hard. Really hard. But it made a huge difference. It may have saved my marriage. It helped my relationship with my kids, and with the other people in my life. It helped my writing.

It may take time to find a doctor and/or therapist who’s the right fit. If you go on medication, it may take time to find the right dosage and the right med or combination of meds. And some health insurance plans can be a nightmare.

But if you can, it’s worth reaching out for help.

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For those in the U.S., Mental Health America has what looks like a good set of tools for getting started, including screening tools and steps to find help. MentalHealth.gov has some resources as well.

Be kind to yourself. You deserve health and happiness.

Back from ICON 43

Got home around midnight last night, collapsed into bed, and was immediately pounced upon by one of the cats. I guess Chewie felt I owed him four days’ worth of scritches, and he meant to collect RIGHT NOW. Cats, you know?

ICON was a great deal of fun, as always. We had a delightful set of guests this year: Mike Mullin, Daniel Mohr and his hetero life mate Wolfie B. Bad, Mike Miller, and Joe and Gay Haldeman. I love that my Toastmaster duties give me the chance to hang out with and get to know our guests each year.

And of course, I got to spend time with so many other great ICON friends. I emceed a silent film narration challenge for the first time, and also joined in the round robin storytelling, which I’d never done before. I won’t even try to recap the two stories we came up with, but the fire-spider erotica subplot was all Mike Mullin’s fault!

I ended up taking a lot of pics this year. I’ve got most of the good ones posted in their own Facebook album. If you’re Facebook-averse, you can also check the Flickr album.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Joe Haldeman and Gene Wolfe Wolfie B. Bad gives CPR to Mike Miller Author Mike Mullin Batgirl and Bane

And now, having pet the cat enough for him to leave me alone, I’m off to catch up on everything else from the past few days…

ICON Schedule

I’m off to Cedar Rapids again this coming weekend, where I’ll be Toastmaster at ICON 43. That means I get to introduce this year’s guests of honor, Mike Mullin, Daniel Mohr, Mike Miller, Wolfie B. Bad, and Joe and Gay Haldeman.

Here’s my schedule, for anyone who might be there and wants to say hi.

Thursday

Friday

  • 7 p.m. Opening Ceremonies
  • 9 p.m. GoH Challenge: Silent Film Narration

Saturday

  • 9 a.m. Representation in SF/F
  • 10 a.m. Author/Artist meet and greet
  • 1 p.m. Speaking to Paradise ICON writers
  • 4 p.m. GoH Interviews
  • 9 p.m. Round Robin Storytelling

Sunday

  • 9 a.m. GoH/Benefactors Brunch

I’ll also be doing author photos again this year. I believe there should be sign-up information at registration/check-in. (And you’re allowed to sign up even if you’re not an author.)

The Dragon Prince

The Dragon PrinceMy son and I watched the first (and only, so far) season of THE DRAGON PRINCE last week. Co-creator Aaron Ehasz was the head writer and director of Avatar: The Last Airbender, so I was really excited for this.

Of course, Avatar was an amazing show, and it’s going to be hard for anything to live up to that standard. The Dragon Prince might not be as amazing as Avatar, but I still enjoyed it.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING

The show is set in a more “traditional” fantasy world of kings and magic and elves and dragons. It’s a well-developed world, with a lot of history and detail, but there was a lot in the first episode that felt like variations on themes I’d read and watched a lot already. It didn’t feel new.

It picks up more with the second and third episodes, as human princes Callum and Ezran join up with the moon elf assassin Rayla to try to save a dragon egg. We also get more character development in general, which is one of the show’s strengths.

It doesn’t feel as diverse as the world of Avatar, which was disappointing. I mean, making a black man king was pretty sweet…until the show immediately killed him off. Seeing General Amaya, a deaf woman, leading troops and kicking ass, was wonderful, and I hope she gets more screen time in season two. (I loved her interpreter, too.)

There’s a lot of humor and banter and fun, but also some genuinely touching emotional moments. I particularly love Rayla’s struggles and conflicts, and moments like when she casually tells Ezran he’s worth losing a hand for.

Several people said they thought this was intended for a younger audience than Avatar, but I’m not sure. Avatar had some deep and powerful themes, but at its heart were a trio of young kids. The Dragon Prince doesn’t feel as deep, but it still deals with war and death and corruption and torture.

My son spent a fair amount of time drawing parallels between the two shows. (He was asking when the Appa-analogue would show up. Then we got the episode with Ava the wolf.) If you’re a fan of Avatar, some of the humor and characters and conflicts will feel familiar. I think that’s mostly a good thing. But Callum was a little too Sokka-like for me — they’re not only written with a similar voice, they’re played by the same voice actor.

My biggest complaint is that it’s too short. The season ends on a nice moment, but with plenty of conflict building on the horizon. Literally. And there’s obviously so much more world building and history to get into. In a lot of ways, season one was just laying out the groundwork and establishing the world and characters.

The animation style was a little annoying at times — a bit choppy. It could be striking and beautiful too, but not as much as the artwork in Avatar.

Netflix hasn’t officially announced a second season yet, but I’m hoping and assuming they will, and I’m looking forward to watching it.

Anyone else seen it yet? What did you think?

Jim C. Hines